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73 BANDHS COST ASSAM RS 1267 CR IN A YEAR 

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By FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT in Guwahati
  • Published 16.03.99
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Guwahati, March 16 :     The Assam government has lost Rs 1266.60 crore for 73 bandhs between June 1997 to May 1998. A study carried out by the Northeast Development Finance Corporation Limited (Nedfi) here confirmed the loss. Nedfi chairman and former director of the Asian Development Bank Jayanta Madhab regretted that bandhs were called ?on the slightest pretext in the state.? He said copies of the study would soon be sent to organisations which frequently called bandhs and also to the state government. Madhab said the study had observed that ?repeated? bandh calls in Assam had tarnished the image of the state in the eyes of investors and tourists. ?These organisations have been calling bandhs to press for the economic development of the state. But, in the process, what they are actually doing is hampering development,? Madhab said. The Nedfi chief said between June 1997 and May 1998, the Peoples? Democratic Front (PDF), a Bodo-dominated political party, topped the list of bandh callers, surpassing the major militant organisations in the state. The PDF, which was supporting the Asom Gana Parishad-led coalition in the state from outside between June 1997 and May 1998 sponsored eight bandhs during this period. The study said the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa) and the All-Assam Students Union (AASU) had called six bandhs during the period. The outlawed Bodo Liberation Tiger Force (BLTF) had also called five bandhs. ?What is surprising is that even the ruling Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) had called bandhs on four occasions during the period,? Madhav said. Almost all other ethnic groups of the state observed bandhs at least once or twice, he added. The Nedfi chairman said the state government had to pay Rs 510 crore as salary to the government and semi-government employees during bandhs. He said the per day loss of state domestic product (SDP) was Rs 4,479 lakh in 1997-98. ?When the losses were calculated for the total number of bandh days, it amounted to Rs 1,226.60 crore for for the period understudy,? he said, adding the loss was calculated by taking into account state bandhs as well as district bandhs. Rebel injured An NDFB militant was injured when the security forces opened fire at Borgaoh in Barpeta district last night. Reports reaching here said a patrol party returned fire at a group of NDFB extremists when the latter made an abortive attempt to ambush their convoy. An NDFB militant who was injured in retaliatory firing, however, managed to flee with his companions under cover of darkness. After the militants fled, the security forces recovered arms, ammunition and incriminating documents from the spot. Hill councils protest The Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) and the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council (NCHAC) have accused the state government of violating the provisions of the Constitution and other norms by cutting down the annual plan allocation in the hill budget this year. KAAC chief executive member Jotson Bey and NCHAC chief executive member Prakanta Warisa said here today that the state government, besides cutting down heavily on the annual plan allocation, has also slashed the special Central assistance and Centre-sponsored schemes in the two hill districts. Bey and Warisa said the level of outlay of Rs 250 crore for 1999-2000, the state government has earmarked only Rs 147.75 crore, which is only 7.5 per cent of the state?s outlay in last year?s allocation of Rs 1,650 crore. They said in 1995-96, Rs 142.52 crore was the plan outlay for the councils. The two CEMs said as per the norms, a 15 per cent increase in Plan and non-Plan outlay is made every year to meet price escalation and inflation rate. They said as per the Sixth Schedule, the councils prepare statements of anticipated receipt and expenditure and place it before the state government for incorporation in the state Budget. They said a hungerstrike will be held in front of the Raj Bhavan on March 26 to protest against the violation of norms. Meanwhile, the Autonomous State Demand Committee (ASDC) has decided to move a no-confidence motion in the forthcoming session of the Assembly in protest against the state government?s failure on all fronts.